New laws could halt the genetically modified organism (GMO) agriculture in the Philippines. This GMO ban could halt new farming technology in Southeast Asia as a whole. That’s because the Philippines is ASEAN’s regional pioneer in the field.
Late last year, the nation’s top court overhauled all existing laws about GMO farming, effectively halting all planting and the issuance of new permits.
This came into effect only because of repetitive petitions from environmental activists and agencies such as Greenpeace. They went to questionable lengths to have their voice heard.
Some critics believe banning GMO plants would just cause the Philippine economy harm, affecting poor farmers most. Many corn farmers have also voiced their concerns over a food shortage in the Philippines.
GMO corn makes up nearly 70% of corn all output in the Philippines.
Southeast Asia’s GMO Pioneer, First to Issue GMO Ban
GMO corn didn’t become the majority of corn produced overnight. It’s been a long and hard journey for the country to be where it is at today.
Considered a pioneer, The Philippines was the first country to approve planting and commercialization of GMO crops. They’re also the first to approve imports of GMO crops.
In fact, the chief of the plant quarantine service at the Bureau of Plant Industry, Merle Palacpac, said that the Philippines has led the region. He said the country’s initial regulatory framework for GMO plants serves as a “model” for places like Vietnam and Indonesia to replicate.
Why is Southeast Asia’s pioneer GMO producing country is going through all this?
The decision of the nation’s supreme court to void the 2002 laws was partly because environmental activists mobilized. They believe GMO crops pose a risk to public health. As a result, the government wants to tighten environmental scrutiny before any more changes are made.
Fierce Resistance from Both Farmers and Companies
However, advocates of GMO say there’s is no scientific evidence that the consumption of GMO crops is dangerous. If anything, it gives the world a more reliable supply of crops for the world’s population to sustain itself on. They also point out the potential negative consequences that would arise from a GMO ban.
Due to the fact that 70% of corn in the country is GMO, any disturbance could start a chain of unfortunate events. The GMO ban may actually bring about a shortage the country’s food supply.
President of the Philippines Maize Federation even said the move was “anti-nationalistic” when considering things from a food security perspective. She underscored that GMO crops yield twice the amount of “normal” ones.
With farmers looking to plant their crops for the next harvest, and many of the current import permits expiring in March, the government is pushing to implement a new set of regulations. To some, it’s crucial to confirm the situation as soon as possible to prevent a food shortage.
Of course, there’s resistance at every corner from the environmental activists. Greenpeace feels the government is not taking enough time to mull over the options.
Despite the affects of this ban, events surrounding the region pioneer of GMO crops left Southeast Asia in shock.
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